Alchemy. The science of transmutation. Turning lead into gold. We all want it. Everyone wants to find that element, that elusive and pivotal essence that will create the desired change. Where is that magical Philosopher’s Stone? One sliver dissolved in liquid and quaffed is a panacea for all ills. Taken regularly it is the Elixir of Life, bestower of immortality. It’s powerful stuff.
You must realize, of course, that I’m speaking in metaphor here. It is my belief (and that of many others) that the “science” of Alchemy is allegorical to the quest of the human soul towards enlightenment.
Is it unrealistic to believe that there is one ingredient that can transmute our heavy leaden existences into the soaring, golden bliss of enlightenment? I think not.
I’ve noticed a theme running through my life. This theme has to do with “True Statements”. I’m talking about that experience when you hear a phrase or a quote or a teaching and the deep, undeniable Truth of it hits you in the face like a chocolate cream pie thrown by a major league pitcher.
Here are some of the True Statements that have pie-whacked me:
“Follow your bliss.” Joseph Campbell
“Do what thou Wilt be the whole of the law.” ~ Aleister Crowley
“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” ~ Rumi
“Do what you love. Know your own bone; Gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it and gnaw it still.” ~
Henry David Thoreau
“Keep pure your highest ideal. Strive ever towards it. Let naught stop you or turn you aside.” ~ Doreen Valiente
“Your Heart’s Desire is the Voice of God, and that Voice must be obeyed sooner or later.” ~ Emmett Fox
Do you see the theme?
There’s nothing high-minded about it. It’s not about intellect or wisdom. It’s not about finding the right guru. And it’s not, in the end, even about prayer or meditation. It’s about DOING.
I do believe that we are spiritual beings, at our core. But we were put on this earth, in this mundane existence for a reason. It is to experience things and experience Doing things.
Without exception, when humans occupy that space of “the zone”, they are creating. And creation is the realm of the gods.
In those moments you are connecting your heart and your soul to the Soul of the World, the Anima Mundi. At those times when you are doing what you truly love, you are at peak intuition, highest wisdom and you are changing the world. And not just your world, THE world. You are collaborating with the Anima Mundi to bring about that which is in your heart. In those moments you can feel the presence of the divine.
And this, my dear readers, is the Philosopher’s Stone.
Let’s take a closer look at some of those quotes.
Joseph Campbell said “Follow Your Bliss”. And I said, above, that you’re changing the world by being in that zone of joy. Here’s a little excerpt from Bill Moyers’ interview with Joseph Campbell in the PBS series “The Power of Myth”. They were discussing the idea of “Following Your Bliss”.
“-Moyers: In this sense, unlike heroes such as Prometheus or Jesus, we’re not going on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves.
–Campbell: But in doing that, you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes, there’s no doubt about it. The world without spirit is a wasteland. People have the notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules, and who’s on top, and so forth. No, no! Any world is a valid world if it’s alive. The thing to do is to bring life to it, and the only way to do that is to find in your own case where the life is and to become alive yourself.”
The more you can cultivate those moments of following your bliss, the more often and the longer you dwell there, the more miraculous your life will be.
How about Crowley? “Do what thou wilt be the whole of the law. Love is the law; love under Will.” Crowley expanded on this edict from his seminal work Liber Legis or “The Book of the Law” in a further interpretive work, “Liber II, The Message of the Master Therion”. He discusses the meaning of Will (with a capital W). This Will is akin to Purpose (with a capital P).
“It is Nirvana, only dynamic instead of static–and this comes to the same thing in the end.
The obvious practical task of the magician is then to [(1)] discover what his will really is … (2) Do that Will with a) one-pointedness, (b) detachment, (c) peace.
Then, and then only, art thou in harmony with the Movement of Things, thy will part of, and therefore equal to, the Will of God. And since the will is but the dynamic aspect of the self, and since two different selves could not possess identical wills; then, if thy will be God’s will, Thou art That.”
And Doreen Valiente’s beautiful poem, “The Charge of the Goddess” furthers this notion. The quote, expanded, reads:
“Keep pure your highest ideal. Strive ever towards it. Let naught stop you or turn you aside. For mine is the secret door which opens upon the land of youth. And mine is the cup of the wine of life and the cauldron of Cerridwen, which is the Holy Grail of immortality.”
So don’t seek enlightenment. Seek the joy of creativity that makes you forget that you’re not enlightened yet. Don’t pursue self-development. Pursue those moments of pure bliss that put you in the role of creator. No self-judgments or doubts can creep in at those times. You’re already there.
That’s your Alchemy. That is your pivot-point of transformation. That’s your Pholosopher’s Stone.
Contemplate what that is for you.
I will leave you, dear reader, with these quotes from “The Alchemist” by Paolo Coelho to move you along your journey.
“I learned that the world has a soul, and that whoever understands that soul can also understand the language of things. I learned that many alchemists realized their Personal Legends, and wound up discovering the Soul of the World, the Philosopher’s Stone, and the Elixir of Life. But, above all, I learned that these things are all so simple that they could be written on the surface of an emerald.”
“This is why alchemy exists,” the boy said. “So that everyone will search for his treasure, find it, and then want to be better than he was in his former life. Lead will play its role until the world has no further need for lead; and then lead will have to turn itself into gold. That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”